bride with 3 bridesmaids
Vecoma at the Yellow River

When it comes to how to ask bridesmaids to be in your wedding party, it can feel like you’re proposing several times over. There may be some butterflies in your stomach, a nagging fear that someone will say no, and maybe a few sleepless nights—but really, staging a bridesmaid proposal should be a fun and stress-free experience. You’re asking your besties to stand by your side on your wedding day, which is a true honor, so while you shouldn’t sweat every detail, a little pre-planning will go a long way.

Here’s how to ask bridesmaids to be in your wedding in just a few simple steps.

Pick your squad.

First things first: It’s time to decide who will be in your bridal party. Usually, brides pick their siblings and siblings-in-law, as well as their closest relatives and friends to join their crew. Select people who are trustworthy and who have been in your life for a long time—and be sure to think especially carefully about designating the important role of maid of honor. Remember to keep the size of your bridal party proportional to both your wedding. For example, if you’re hosting a small wedding, don’t include a dozen people in your bridal party. And while you don’t have to have the exact same number of party members as your partner, try to keep it relatively similar. And remember—your wedding party doesn’t have to be divided by gender. If you’d like to include men in your bridal party (hello, bridesman!), go for it! Your bridal party should be selected based on your relationship with each individual, not because they’re male or female.

Send a gift...or don’t.

When thinking about how to ask someone to be your bridesmaid, you can search Pinterest for thousands of bridesmaid proposal ideas, from macarons to personalized puzzles, balloons to jewelry (take this quiz to help you pick a gift that suits your and your ‘maids’ style!). You can be as creative as you want when it comes to be creating a bridesmaid proposal gift—just be sure that you have the time and funds to do so. Also keep in mind that you’ll have to deliver your bridesmaid proposal gifts to your chosen ‘maids. This should be pretty easy if they’re local, and a little more complicated if they’re spread out across the country or world. However, if DIY isn’t your thing, elaborate proposal gifts are not a necessary part of how to ask bridesmaids to be in your wedding.

Be a little formal.

If you choose not to send your bridesmaid a gift (which again, is totally okay), you should still take a more formal approach when it comes to how to ask someone to be your bridesmaid. This means asking them in person if they’re local or via phone, FaceTime, or Skype if they’re not. When it comes to considering how to ask bridesmaids to be in your wedding party, we do not recommend email or text. Yes, we know it may sound old fashioned, but being a bridesmaid is a big deal and not something that should be taken too casually. By meeting with your future bridesmaid in person or scheduling a phone call, you’re showing your bestie that this is important—meaning your bridesmaid will take the responsibility that much more seriously.

Have a follow-up convo.

Most of the time, a potential bridesmaid will say an automatic “yes!” when asked if they want to join a bridal party. However, it’s essential that your ‘maids know all of the bridesmaid duties the role entails—especially if she’s a first-timer. Having a follow-up conversation with each ‘maid individually might be a good idea. You might kickoff said convo by saying something like, “I’m so excited that you’re going to be a bridesmaid! I just wanted to see if there was anything you were concerned about or anything I could help with.” This allows your ‘maid to express any issues or questions she might have about the wedding (such as the cost of being a bridesmaid or potential conflicts to pre-wedding events). And while this is uncommon, it also gives your bridesmaid the opportunity to back out if she needs to. Perhaps your bridesmaid is having financial issues or is facing a major life event. In this case, you should handle the decline with grace and genuine concern—there’s no need to freak out. It’s better that your pal is honest with you at this early stage, rather than seeing her drop the ball later on.

Facilitate the introductions.

Once you’ve moved past the how-to-ask-your-bridesmaids phase and you’ve nailed down your bridal party, it’s time to introduce the crew. If your ‘maids all know each other, that’s great, but it’s more likely that your bridal party includes folks from different stages of your life—some family members, some childhood friends, some college besties, etc. It’s on you to initiate communication with your bridesmaids, and make sure that everyone has been properly introduced. This can be done in-person (a game night at your place or happy hour, for example), or by setting up a group text or private Facebook group. Then, your maid of honor should take the reins and start working on planning all of those pre-wedding parties and gearing up for your special day.